“The Case of the Missing Bulldog” by Josh Aterovis from Men of the Mean Streets (Bold Strokes Books, 2011). Edited by Greg Herren and J. M. Redmann.

This story started fast and easily kept my attention all the way to the end. A private eye and a guy he met via an online dating profile are in the hallway of a seedy apartment building, heading to a crime scene. The apartment that the date-turned-client brought the narrator to see turns out to be a total disaster. The blood stains and bloody handprints don’t create but merely enhance the existing malevolent ambiance.

The private eye begins to grill the younger man, who looks increasingly guilty as the conversation progresses. Remember what we said a few days ago about noir requiring a cynical, fatalistic, or morally ambiguous tough guy, or else someone who is lured into committing a crime, or a victim of circumstance, often with a motivation that is sexual in nature?

Yeah, it’s that, in spades. I loved this story.